Food is involved in the fight, though this is not, per se, a food fight.

With the summer here, work on Chapter 6 is going full speed ahead. I draw and ink in batches of 3-4 pages (depending on complexity) and have been making steady progress over the last month. Most importantly, I’ve been really happy with how the pages have turned out.

Progress is always seen in the rear-view mirror, and I always worry about how much I’m actually stunting my progress because––as I’ve stated before––I’m not someone who draws a lot. I tend to draw when I either a) force myself to or b) draw pages of the comic. So, along with all the normal intrusive thoughts of self-doubt and despair, there’s the added worry of whether I’ve worsened in the intervening time.

This is one of those few times when I actually feel the improvement, especially when it comes to the finished pages. When I’m digging into a page and getting it drawn, it’s all small goals and step-by-step challenges. With that, there’s been a fun realization that occurs after I finish inking a page and I sit back and think, “woah, that’s an entire page!” Luckily, that surprise and joy has been happening a lot as I continue through chapter 6 of Long John.

A small reward has been more than a few good, expressive (and, the case of the images below, grumpy) faces.

One triumph I’m especially feeling with these pages is a real step forward––not huge, but it’s there––with my inking. I can’t qualify it and I’m not going to say it’s consistent, but something about the line quality and control has resulted in either panels or entire pages that feel, to me, “professional” or, at least, professional-adjacent. I’ve always been down on my inking, mostly since I don’t lean too heavily into rendering and textures (saving that work for the coloring stage, generally), but I’ve gained a confidence with my tools to try some stuff out and, the results of which, were pleasing.

So, as a big experiment in terms of style and technique, I can say each chapter of Long John has had me clear a new artistic hurdle. It’s nice to see that continue, in a holistic and aggregate kind of way, into chapter 6.